Beer beach

Booze could start flowing in some of Penticton’s public places as soon as next week, the city announced Tuesday.

Council has asked staff to look into the feasibility of licensing some of its own spaces, such as Gyro Park or Skaha Beach, to permit the consumption of alcohol during set times.

Staff’s recommendations are now to be presented to council at its June 2 meeting, and a five-week pilot project could start Friday, June 5.

“If council approves the pilot, all rules of the B.C. Liquor Act, including responsible behaviour, still apply,” Blake Laven, the city’s director of development services, said in a press release.

During the pilot project, the city will conduct public engagement to receive feedback on the concept as well as input on suitable locations.

The city also announced Tuesday council will consider extending free downtown parking indefinitely, plus waiving fees for business patio permits and relaxing design standards.

“By way of this proposed change, city staff will be able to support our community’s retail and food service industry with fast, flexible, no-cost patio permits to help their operations get back up and running,” said Laven.

The idea of licensing public spaces for perhaps one day a week was raised by Coun. Campbell Watt. He suggested people could visit local restaurants and breweries for take-out, then enjoy it in a designated public space. Besides being good for local business, says Watt, the program would also encourage people to get outside.

The city also announced separately Tuesday that the Penticton Community Centre, Penticton Museum and Archives and Cleland Theatre will all remain closed until at least June 28.

But there is a chance the fitness room at the community centre may open sooner.

“While we’re encouraged by the Interior Health Authority’s decision to allow gyms to resume operations, this fitness centre is part of a large, multi-use facility,” the city said in a press release.

“As such, Penticton’s emergency operations centre is working hard to conduct detailed operational planning, facility assessments and creating new procedures and protocols before opening its doors.”